Our dear Maisy just turned 5. We asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday, and she said Disneyland. The best part about this is that we didn't suggest it, she did. We usually have huge parties where we invite everyone we’ve ever known whether they have kids or not. It’s usually expensive, overwhelming for the birthday girl and the birthday mom. We started feeling badly that Maisy wouldn’t have a celebration with her friends, so, the mid-week surprise birthday lunch idea was born. We had a few of her preschool friends (total of 6 kiddos) over for a drop-off birthday celebration prior to pre-school start at 1pm.
Maisy and Maren were off on their usual swap playdate for the morning, so we had plenty of time to set up. Thankfully one of my mom friends stayed to help out, because although Todd was home, he was actually working from home. I set everything up before anyone arrived, so there was barely any work and mostly play once Maisy's friends arrived. We waited. The kids hid. Maisy was very surprised and taken aback slipping into a moment of shyness, but quickly recovered and was ready to play!
Since Disneyland is expensive, we decided to make this gathering cost efficient and easy. It cost under $50 and no one, including me, had a meltdown.
Here is how to do it:
Host a drop-off party. This cuts out many mouths to feed, but keep the party short or you might go crazy with all those kids! Be sure to prepare all you can before your guests arrive.
- Get or make decorations to re-use again and again or use decorations you already have. We got Happy Birthday bunting and flags for Maisy’s 1st birthday. We’ve used the same decorations at each family member’s birthdays since we got them and it’s still cute! We used adorable fabric we already had for a table cloth, small potted flowers for decorations and viola- a fully decorated party for the cost of nothing.
- Use food you already have. You know that half bag of pretzels in your cupboard, right next to the half bag of raisins? Bring them out and use them up! (Within reason of course, make sure they are still good and tasty first!) We didn’t buy anything extra, except for cupcakes, juice and bubble water. I made PB&J sandwiches for the kids, set out carrots, tomatoes and cherries for lunch snacks. I did make really cute and tasty layered juice ice cubes to go in the bubble water to make the drinks a bit fancy.
- Choose activities that are free and easy. We had a balloon dance party. Then, while the kids were eating, I had them help me with a story I had written. It was a little Maisy birthday centered Mad Lib. The kids got a kick out of the completed story. Another activity was cupcake decorating. Of course they loved this! Other ideas are to get out those left over craft materials and let the kids at it, play-doh, clay, drawing, sidewalk chalk, whatever- imagination is the limit on this one, but no need to go out and buy fancy things for the kids to do. The kids really enjoyed playing with toys and each other the most. Kids have fun just being kids.
The only things we bought for the party were; Cupcakes $14, Juice for ice cubes $9, Bubble water $1, Straws $5, Balloons$2, Party favors $18: Total= $49
The lunch was low key, starting out with the pals playing together. It was actually really nice. The kids all went upstairs and played and my friend and I got to hang out for a while and chat. Score!
We called them for a dance party, then had lunch. From there we moved right into decorating cupcakes. I was really all set to bake cupcakes, when my logical husband reminded me of how much work it is and what a debacle it could be (see last year’s birthday). So, I cut corners and bought cupcakes for the kids to decorate. Best decision ever! We sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed the yumminess.
I am so happy I didn’t waste my time baking these things on my own. Only 1 out of 6 kids actually ate the cake part. As a rule only frosting was consumed. Maybe next year I’ll just make frosting...
We did a round of present opening, cleaned up and then I drove the kiddos to preschool in my handy dandy minivan, which gets more useful as the months unfold.
We ended the day with a trip to Fenton’s Creamery (the restaurant from Up) for dinner and sundaes with more friends and family. The day was full, complete with love and laughs. It was one of the easiest happiest birthdays we’ve ever thrown!